Friday, January 12, 2007
Nicaragua's Ortega to upgrade Cuba relations
Thursday, January 11, 2007; 9:35 PM
MANAGUA (Reuters) - New Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said on Thursday he will upgrade diplomatic relations with Cuba, stepping further into Latin America's leftist camp in his second term in office.
Ortega, who led the 1979 Sandinista revolution against a U.S.-backed dictator and was sworn in again on Wednesday, said Nicaragua and Cuba would exchange ambassadors once more.
The two countries were close during Ortega's first period in office but relations deteriorated after Nicaraguan voters sick of a civil war with U.S.-backed Contra rebels voted the Sandinistas out of power in 1990 and the ambassadors were later withdrawn.
"We are going to reestablish full relations with Cuba: commercial, diplomatic and political relations with the brotherly Cuban people," said Ortega, who won November's presidential vote.
He was speaking at an event to mark Nicaragua joining Venezuela and Bolivia in a political and trade pact that was also attended by U.S. foe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Ortega says he wants good relations with the United States but will receive economic aid from Chavez and is friendly with Bolivian President Evo Morales, another leftist who has drawn concern from Washington. Under previous President Enrique Bolanos, Nicaragua briefly sent troops to Iraq in 2003 and joined a regional free trade deal with the United States. Ortega says he backs the trade pact.